“You are not going out with that boy unless his parents are driving and that's that. I'm not just Spitting Grits here, young lady!”

. . . My father, John Thomas Cravey, USAF, to me in 1956.

Massive damage

The monster tornado that formed south of Tuscaloosa did massive damage. Deaths. No electricity.
More when possible.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Cinderella’s Plastic Slippers

Broken Up, Cracking Up

Tiresome. Insufferable.

Parent’s and grandparents’ droning, droning, droning, on and on, about their children’s/grandchildren’s every habit, look, interest, action, word. . . . It’s right up there with the dreaded Christmas letter from “friends.”

December 25

Dearest One of my Piles and Piles of Friends:

Once again I'm happy to report that we are all blissful, nothing has gone or can go wrong, we're all extremely sane and rich, and all my children have been inducted into Phi Beta Kappa.

The merriest of Christmases, love to all, and so sad about your lives.

Your close friend (remember, we met in South Dakota).

So, indulge me.

A couple of weeks ago I found myself completely incapacitated from a serious flare-up from a chronic back condition, which includes bulging disks. At first I lay in the bed crying, not so much from pain as from fear.

Becoming incapacitated and unable to tend to our four-year-old granddaughter Joanna Leigh is plainly one of my worst nightmares.

I called Martha, boo-hoo-hoo-ing. “Martha,” I cried, “what am I going to do????” Sob. “I know you don’t want to do this, but I have to get some help. Will you please come over?” Sob.

Martha has been helping me keep house, paint cabinets, steam clean rugs, trim shrubs, you name it, for a decade. She has been in Joanna Leigh’s life since the beginning, and Joanna Leigh loves her second only to Teddy.

She came.

On one of the days as I lay hurting, Joanna Leigh got some money off the table next to my bed. She pointed her finger at me and said, “Mama Jo, you need to share your money.”

I said, “Honey, it’s really Martha’s money. You need to go tell Martha that SHE needs to share her money.”

She turned on her heels. “Harumph.”

Suddenly, from the other side of the house I heard Martha laughing so hard, she was hollering. It got louder.

I called to her; she came into my room to tell me what was so funny.

“You won’t believe what this child has told me now. She came to tell me that I needed to share my money. I told her I can’t share my money. I patted my pockets and told her, ‘I’m broke!’ She looked at me, pointed her finger, and said. . . .”

She burst out laughing again.

“She said, ‘You are NOT broke. You are stuck together and you need to share your money’.”

 

The Pink Car Driver Performance

Some readers may remember the Christmas Confessional post, confessing that my husband and I totally caved on the Pink Car for Christmas.

Getting this video last weekend made it all ok.

 

Joanna Leigh, Easter weekend 2011

 

Taxing Day 2011: Tornado II in the Annex

April 15, 2011, tax day, was taxing to the max. And it’s not like we weren’t warned well in advance that it would be a bad day.

As much as a week or more before April 15, my weather guru James Spann of abc33/40 Weather Blog in Birmingham said that the predicted storm would be worse than the April 11 severe storm I covered in the previous post.

Tax day was a set-up: warm, horribly muggy, winds from the Gulf, with a real cold front headed for the state to mate with the warm front and produce its horrible offspring – spring tornadoes.

I was getting an e-mail off to a friend. Right in mid-type, I inserted with “Sirens going off. Later.” I grabbed my video camera and headed to my front porch, which faces southwest, where these storms come from. Spann was tracking it on the radar via a Tuscaloosa Sky cam south of town. I knew it was headed in my direction.

Embed:

James Spann tracking the Tuscaloosa tornado via Sky Cam, April 15, 2011

This soon-to-be close call wasn’t the first one, and I hoped I would know when to run for the utility room.

Here’s what I saw through the video’s eye:

Video shot from my front porch, April 15, 2011

It missed, but only by 0.5 miles or so. It hit the neighborhood where my husband grew up: Fairmont and Lakeshore. Clich├ęs abound. A friend and his wife who live two houses up from my husband’s old house lost all their trees and fencing. They said it was the old “freight train” coming over the house.

When it left there, it jumped over 15th Street East and took out a couple of houses up on the hill by the railroad track. Someone in the large condo/apartment complex next to those houses took video of it:

 

The tornado forming, April 15, 2011

My house is about half a mile from where they are videoing the sight.

The next day, I went through the Lakeshore neighborhood as best I could, weaving in and out of power lines and poles, power company trucks, debris, and, yes, it looked like a war zone.

BeechHills-4

 

Fairmont-Lakeshore-2

 

Here is the National Weather Service assessment issued today, April 20, 2011:

BLACK WARRIOR TORNADO (GREENE AND TUSCALOOSA COUNTIES)…

PRELIMINARY DATA…
EVENT DATE: APRIL 15, 2011
EVENT TYPE: EF-3 TORNADO
ESTIMATED PEAK WINDS (MPH): 140
INJURIES/FATALITIES: NONE
EVENT START LOCATION AND TIME: 33.012/-87.739 AT 316 PM
EVENT END LOCATION AND TIME: 33.190/-87.504 AT 343 PM
DAMAGE PATH LENGTH (IN MILES): 19
DAMAGE WIDTH (IN YARDS): 500

NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE METEOROLOGISTS SURVEYED THE DAMAGE IN FAR
NORTHEASTERN GREENE AND SOUTH CENTRAL TUSCALOOSA COUNTIES. IT HAS
BEEN DETERMINED THAT THE DAMAGE WAS CONSISTENT WITH A TORNADO. WINDS
WERE ESTIMATED AT 140 MPH. THE TORNADO TOUCHED DOWN NORTH OF
COUNTY ROAD 86 IN GREENE COUNTY…ABOUT 3 MILES SOUTHEAST OF
RALPH…UPROOTING DOZENS OF HARD AND SOFTWOOD TREES. FROM
THERE…THE TORNADO TRAVELED NORTHEAST….MOVING PARALLEL TO AND
LESS THAN 2 MILES EAST OF THE INTERSTATE 20/59 CORRIDOR…SNAPPING
AND UPROOTING TREES ALONG THE WAY. THE MOST SIGNIFICANT DAMAGE
OCCURRED AS THE TORNADO CROSSED THE BLACK WARRIOR RIVER NEAR MAXWELL
LOOP ROAD. HUNDREDS OF TREES WERE SNAPPED OR UPROOTED AND A POWER
TRANSMISSION TOWER WAS CRUSHED. THE TORNADO CONTINUED NORTHEAST
MOVING NORTH OF SHELTON STATE…AND CROSSING HIGHWAY 69 NEAR
TAYLORVILLE AND THE INTERSTATE 20/59 CORRIDOR NEAR HIGHWAY 82. ALONG
THIS PATH…DAMAGE CONSISTED OF SNAPPED OR UPROOTED TREES AND
STRUCTURAL DAMAGE TO HOMES AND BUSINESSES. THE TORNADO LIFTED NEAR
MAYFAIR DRIVE…SOUTH OF VETERANS MEMORIAL PARKWAY. THE TORNADO
DAMAGE PATH WAS 19 MILES LONG AND WAS 500 YARDS WIDE AT ITS WIDEST
POINT.

The spring tornado season in Tornado Alley Annex is nearly over, and none too soon.

 

Just Meteorology in Tornado Alley Annex

It has been building up all day. Warm moist Gulf Air has been flowing into the state for days. A spring cold front (“cool” front, relatively speaking) has been sneaking in from the northwest – a set up for trouble.

When I went to pick up Joanna Leigh at school, I knew we were in for a stormy night, but I thought we had time to run to Ruby Tuesdays across highway 11, only a mile or two from our house, and grab supper. I kept looking toward the west and southwest as we waited for Papa. It was dark over there, and it was muggy.

We ate, paid, and headed for the door to get home. We opened the double doors and heard it – the dreaded sirens, loud, piercing. The wind had started blowing. Joanna Leigh and I ran for the car. Papa was getting her into the car seat as I hopped in and started the car. He got a call. I jumped out to go around and finish hooking up the seat belts. I ran back around to get in the front seat. As I opened the door, the wind nearly shut it back on me. Uh oh.

I looked over my left shoulder.

Oh, man, this ain’t good, I thought to myself. In a split second I decided no, we weren’t going anywhere.

I ran back around to Joanna Leigh’s door, unhooked her, snatched her up and grabbed Teddy. The wind was now blowing about 50 mph, we later learned. We ran for the door.

The manager was herding the patrons to the back, to the southwest wall near the restrooms. One of the waiters gave Joanna Leigh some colors and paper. “Why is the storm here?” she kept asking. Finally I said, it’s just meteorology.”

She colored and I watched the thing pass over us on my iPhone with the other patrons who were watching their weather app or getting text messages. One woman was texting with a fireman. She looked up and said, “He said just to hang on. It’s almost all the way over us and heading for Vance.”

Then the torrential rain. Usually that means it’s over, but I decided to stay and let this pass over us too. About 15 minutes later, we ran to the car.

“Oh, for crying in a bucket,” I exclaimed. I had left the car running when I jumped out to get Joanna Leigh out of her car seat.

Here’s a screen shot of the ABC 33/40 weather radar from their blog:

Tornado alley annex

April is a cruel month in Mississippi and Alabama, Tornado Alley Annex. This happens way too often. The mess is heading for the Georgia line, but maybe it has blown off most of its steam.

Kudos to the staff at Ruby Tuesdays.

 

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